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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke December 14, 2020

No, the CDC isn’t delivering groceries and cleaning products to people in quarantine

If Your Time is short

  • The CDC doesn’t deliver. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 quarantine for 14 days. But a recent Instagram post appears to claim that the federal health agency then delivers food and supplies to make those weeks more comfortable.

"If you know anybody (that) test positive with COVID-19 the CDC has funding," the post says. "They deliver groceries and cleaning products (2) twice while you’re in quarantine. Call the CDc intake hotline." The post then lists two phone numbers with Philadelphia area codes. 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

The abbreviation "CDC" usually refers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the federal health agencies that are coordinating the nation’s COVID-19 response.

A spokesperson for the agency told us that delivering groceries and cleaning products is "beyond the CDC’s role," which includes detecting and responding to public health threats and promoting healthy and safe behaviors. 

In that vein, the CDC does include information on its website about grocery shopping and running errands during the pandemic.

The agency advises limiting trips to stores if possible, because generally, the more closely you interact with someone, the greater the risk of catching COVID-19. Order online or choose curbside pickup instead, the CDC says.

The website also includes recommendations on meal kit and food delivery safety, guidance for food and grocery delivery drivers trying to stay safe, and resources for people seeking food assistance during the pandemic. 

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It lists two numbers for information about meal sites, food banks and other services: 1-866-3-HUNGRY for English speakers and 1-877-8-HAMBRE for Spanish speakers.

We called the two Philadelphia numbers in the Instagram post. They turned out to be access numbers for a health center’s voicemail system.

James Garrow, director of communications for the Public Health Department in Philadelphia, told us the numbers are for contact tracers with the city’s COVID-19 containment division.

Contact tracers try to connect people who test positive for COVID-19 with services and support if they need it, but the health department doesn’t provide those services, Garrow said. 

He also said he was unaware of other organizations, including any that may use the abbreviation "CDC," offering such services to people in quarantine in Philadelphia. 

In any case, the numbers listed as the "CDC intake hotline" are actually city numbers that are not for arranging food deliveries.  

We tried contacting the user who made the post, but did not immediately get a response. 

We rate this post False.


Our Sources

Instagram post, Dec. 4, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, When to quarantine, updated Dec. 10, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mission, role, pledge, visited Dec. 14, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Running errands, updated Sept. 11, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food & grocery pick-up & delivery drivers, updated Nov. 12, 2020

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and food system resources during COVID-19 pandemic, visited Dec. 14, 2020

Email interview with Belsie González, senior public affairs specialist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Email interview with James Garrow, communications director, Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Dec. 14, 2020


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